Banerjee left the UPA government
With the outside support of
Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav, the government will survive a
no-confidence vote and remain in power
Article added on September 21, 2012 at 12:54 Italian time
As reported yesterday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had
Indian coalition breakup,
with the six ministers from her Trinamool Congress party (TMC) resigning
from the Indian government if some modest, desperately needed reforms go
ahead as planned.
Both sides, Banerjee's TMC and Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh with the rest of the United Progressive Alliance decided to play
hardball and stick to their decisions. Today, September 21, the two camps
met for a last talk and to hand the resignation letters of
the 6 TMC ministers to the prime minister. Probably all of the 19 TMC
lawmakers no longer stand behind the United Progressive Alliance (UPA),
turning the current coalition into a minority government.
For the resignation of the 6 TMC
national ministers to become formally official, the Indian President will
have to accept their resignation, which will happen later today.
The six Congress Party ministers in the regional government of West Bengal
announced that they would resign in a tit-for-tat move, one that is not
really threatening Mamata Banerjee because the chief minister has a majority
in West Bengal even without the support of the Congress Party.
On the national level, Manmohan Singh and his UPA coalition are pretty sure
to survive a no-confidence vote in the Lok Sabha. The regional parties of
former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati (21 Bahujan Samaj Party MPs)
and of former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav (22 Socialist
/ Samajwadi Party MPs) with their combined 43 parliamentarians are likely to
support the UPA government from the outside, maybe even with the ambition to
join it. Both parties had submitted letters to the President of India
pledging their support to the ruling UPA coalition.
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However, Mayawati and Mulayam Sing Yadav - much like Mamata
Banerjee - have openly opposed the government's decision to open up the
retail market to foreign competition, allowing up to 51% of FDI.
In this context, Indian media report that the government will partly
rollback its decisions on diesel prices and increase the quota of subsidized
cooking gas in order to appease both unhappy UPA members as well as outside
supporters such as Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav, who can claim credit
for the compromise and therefore remain loyal to the government.
On September 20, 2012 the Trinamool Congress chairwoman Mamata Banerjee
claimed that the central government was secretly tapping her phone
calls. It was not the first time, she alleged. When she was the leader of a
movement against land acquisition in Nandigram in 2006-07, she said she had
already been the victim of phone tapping: “My phone malfunctioned because of
tapping.” This cannot be excluded, but Banerjee aka Didi has not presented
any proof for her allegations.
In addition, Didi stood firm on her rejection of foreign direct investments
(FDI) in the multi-retail sector, which could bring needed competition to
Asia's third largest economy with companies such as Walmart and Tesco
entering the Indian market.
Not only Mamata Banerjee, but also the Indian National Congress party and
other political forces have been less than helpful in reforming India. For
instance, the major oppositional party, the BJP, is opposed to the opening
of the retail-market too. Moreover, corruption within the current coalition
remains rampant. Nevertheless, the opening of the retail market could mark
the beginning of a new reform era.
Tonight at 8pm New Delhi time, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will explain
the need for economic reform to the Indian people. Will his alliance stay in
power until the end of the legislative period or are early elections
looming? Anyway, substantial reforms have to follow because, in comparison
with Brazil, China and other emerging nations, India lags far behind.